Losing Independents

Dear Edahn,

I'm in a long distance relationship (LDR) at the moment, which I would hesitate to even call a "relationship" because of the long distance. I don't know if I'm deluding myself with the idea of being in a relationship.

As much as I like the sound of being in a good relationship, I really struggle with the idea of committing myself to a partnership. I tend to see relationships as requiring me to give up part of myself, putting another person's needs into consideration possibly at the expense of my independence. I've remained single for most of my life because I wanted to be comfortable with who I am on my own without relying on another person. I'm 30 now and in the past 2 or so years part of me has started wanting a romantic connection with someone. Out of the blue a fella has come into my life that I feel comfortable showing my true self to in a way that I never have before and yet even with that I still question if I'm someone who simply isn't made for relationships.

What things should I be asking myself in order to understand what is real and what is fantasy in my expectations of a partner and relationship? And how do I get over my fear of losing independence? I feel I'm at a loss here, like I should be happy and yet I can't stop thinking myself out of a potentially great thing.

There's a certain degree of compromise that's a natural part of being in a relationship. You find compromise in your friendships as well, but it's more subtle. In friendships, you don't unilaterally decide where you want to eat, or what to do on Saturday night, or what movie to see, but arrive at that decision through informal negotiation and discussion. Sometimes you don't get your way and you just say "fine." You might crack a joke or pout for a little while, but then you suck it up and move on. Next time you decide what shitty movie we see.

The same issues come up in a romantic relationship, with a few added ones: you can't hook up with other people, and are expected to avoid being too intimate with someone you could be attracted to. Just as with friendships, we make those compromises because there's something better to be gained: intimacy, fun, and sex. If it's really truly unbearable, then I would assume that the payoff isn't outweighing the costs. In other words, you need to find someone whose companionship you enjoy more or wait a little bit to see if this relationship matures into something more satisfying. If not, move on.